Monday, October 17, 2016

I'm on YouTube!

I'm on YouTube!

*small voice* Hi! Remember me? It's been a while! How are you? Enjoying fall? Eaten enough pumpkin spice everything yet? Enjoying spring if you're in the southern hemisphere?

I just wanted to write a quick post to let you know I've made some cooking videos and shared them on the YouTubes. Have you heard of ASMR? It's that soothing, tingling sensation you get on the back of your neck when you hear certain sounds. I never knew it had a name or that other people experienced it too. Not everybody does experience it, mind you. If you're one of the poor souls who doesn't get the tingly feeling then ASMR may seem stupid. Anyway, I've been watching ASMR videos on YouTube to help soothe the Anxiety Monster, and while they don't always work, it's nice when they do. My favorite ASMR videos are cooking videos. No whispers! ASMR whispers freak me out. So I decided to make a few of my own ASMR-friendly* cooking videos until I lose interest in them. You know me. So far I've made eight videos.

* UPDATE: Abort! Abort! I won't be calling these videos "ASMR friendly" anymore. The whole ASMR thing has become weird. So now I think I'll simply be calling them "relaxing" videos. Or maybe "quiet" videos. "Introvert" videos?  

Here is a little sampling.

There are a few more on my channel and I'll probably make a few more before I lose interest and quit. Here's the link to my channel in case you'd like to subscribe or check it out.

Anyway, that's all the news I have. I hope you're well and doing whatever makes you happy.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Greetings from the vestibule of my hermit hole! How is 2016 treating you? Marvelously, I hope. Are you staying warm? And are my southern hemisphere peeps staying cool? I've been hiding under my electric blanket with a cup of hot tea glued to my right hand whenever possible. My left hand has a firm grip on the remote control. Don't even try to pry it out of my frozen claw.

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Our poor little backyard birds have been having a rough, cold week out there. How do they even make it out there? They're so tiny and delicate! Our bird feeders have been extra busy these past couple of weeks. The woodpeckers love to eat those suet cakes that have bits of nuts and seeds and corn in them, but the ones that they sell at most wild bird supply stores or big retailers like Walmart are all made with beef fat. The reason I came out of my hermit hole today is to share a recipe for coconut oil "suet" cakes. These are not something we'd make all year round because coconut oil is expensive and we are not made of money, but also because it must be cold enough outside for the coconut oil to remain solid. I don't really measure the ingredients because it's basically just a bit of melted coconut oil with a lot of chunky goodies thrown in, but I did take notes and pictures when I was making this suet cake so I could share them with you in case you want to make some for your wild birds. Let's do this!

Coconut Oil Suet Cake for Wild Birds

2.5oz (70g) coconut oil
1 heaping tbsp unsalted, natural peanut butter
2oz (60g) chopped unsalted nuts (they love peanuts and whatever nuts I may have from the bulk bins)
2oz (60g) cracked corn
1oz (30g) millet
about 1 tbsp cornmeal
about 1 tbsp oats

The instructions are quite simple. Gently melt the oil and the peanut butter together either in the microwave or over low heat in a saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Done! You may need to use a bit more cornmeal and/or oats if you have too much soupy oil in your bowl. You can also use (unsalted) seeds instead of corn or millet. All the solid ingredients will sink to the bottom of the bowl or saucepan and you should have only a thin layer of oil at the top (see photo #3 below.) Now you just need to transfer it all into a mold and refrigerate it until it's completely solidified.

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet CakesCoconut Oil Suet Cakes
Coconut Oil Suet CakesCoconut Oil Suet Cakes

From top to bottom and left to right:

  1. Ingredients, assemble!

  2. Melted coconut oil and peanut butter.

  3. Nuts and other goodies mixed into the oil/peanut butter mix.

  4. The "suet" cake ready to be refrigerated.

  5. Dinner is ready! That type of suet cage can be found in most wild bird food shops and massive retailers like Walmart.

Now let's see what the customers think of these cakes.

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

(Can't see the video of the woodpeckers enjoying their treat? Try this.)

I think they approve! I hope it helps keep their little bellies warm during the cold winter nights. The little Downy Woodpeckers and the larger Red-Bellied Woodpeckers love these. Unfortunately, the starlings love them too. Starlings will devour these "Vashta Nerada"* style. Our resident mocking bird has been eating these too, as well as our tiny little juncos and even the sparrows.

Alrighty then. I've done my damage here. Back to my hermit hole!

* If you're not a Doctor Who fan, that just means a swarm of starlings will devour them swiftly!

EDIT: Don't worry if you can't find those suet holders in your area, do what Starr does and use string to hang the suet cakes!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

Not another year of foiled Halloweegan plans! I had lots of ideas for Halloween, but I've been going through a thing and I just haven't felt like getting crafty. I suspect this is a seasonal thing because the same thing happened last year at this time. But there is going to be at least this one Halloweegan post this year, and hold on to your bits because it's a picture-heavy bandwidth hog!

It's Aquafaba royal icing! This is the royal icing recipe that I used via Geeky Cakes. It works so well! It works just like the egg-based royal icing that I used to make for my mother's old catering business. I added 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract to mine to give it a bit of flavor. First, I made little ghosts following a tutorial that I can't find anymore. That's helpful, isn't it? It was a very simple tutorial. First you have to pipe a tear-shaped blob using a large round decorating tip on a bit of wax paper, and when that has had about 15 minutes to dry, you pipe two little tear-shaped blobs on the sides of the big blob using a smaller round decorating tip. After all the blobs dry for a couple of hours, you can draw the eyes and mouths using an edible marker or a tiny brush dipped in food coloring. Again, this isn't my original idea but I can't find the tutorial that I used. I'll update this post if I find it.

This guy is not too happy.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

This guy is extra happy!

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

This guy wants you to get off his lawn.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

Then I went vertical. Same decorating tips, but instead of making flat, tear-shaped blobs, I made vertical pear-shaped blobs.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

I made a few that stood up straight until I got bored with that and then I made some floppy ones.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

This poor guy looks like he's seen a ghost.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

Then I made tiny little pumpkins following this tutorial. Awful photo. Sorry about that.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

And then I went vertical again.

Aquafaba Royal Icing Ghosts and Pumpkins

That's it! Aquafaba royal icing *WIN*! I may try to make a little gingerbread house later this year now that I have a good icing recipe to hold it together. Unless I don't. That's a lot of work!

PS: I owe you a photo of a cute bird. I haven't taken any in a while.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Vegan MoFo: Doctor Who Jammie Dodgers

Today's Vegan MoFo prompt is "make/eat something inspired by a book or film." I'm doing something inspired by a TV show. Close enough? Close enough!

Vegan Jammie Dodgers
How many of you are Doctor Who fans? Raise your hand! Do you have a favorite Doctor or do you love them all the same? Have you watched all the classic Doctor Who episodes? I haven't watched them but I will at some point, I'm sure. I think my favorite Doctor+companion combo was the dynamic duo that were David Tennant and Catherine Tate. Those two were... wait for it... brilliant! (video)

When David Tennant left us, I did not think I would like Matt Smith as the Doctor because I'm not good with change, but he was awesome and he brought cookies! I'd say he was fantastic, but that word is reserved for Christopher Eccleston.

If you're not a Doctor Who fan, sorry about all that boring stuff I just said up there. Let me make it up to you with Jammie Dodgers!

Aren't they cute? I love them! For those of you who don't watch the show: Three episodes into the fifth series, the Doctor threatens to blow up a Dalek spaceship using a Jammie Dodger as a detonator. Here's a short video of the scene in case you're curious.

"All right, it's a Jammie Dodger but I was promised tea!"

I used Jamie Oliver's recipe (does that make them Jamie Dodgers instead?) which isn't vegan, but all I had to do was use vegan butter instead or dairy butter and skip the egg yolk. I didn't bother replacing the egg yolk with anything and they turned out perfect. I also skipped the sprinkling of sugar on top. They are sweet and tender and a delicious little treat! In case you don't know what they are, Jammie Dodgers are a British treat that consists of two shortbread cookies filled with jam. Do you think the Doctor would mind that I made half with jam and half with chocolate? Nah! (Did you just picture David Tennant saying "nah?")

Vegan Jammie Dodgers

Sorry. The little Jammie Dodgers were so cute that I got a little carried away with the photos. Just two more and then I'm done! Let's see what the Doctor thinks of my Jammie Dodgers...

Vegan Jammie Dodgers

He's running toward it! I think he approves! Sorry, Doctor. This one is mine.

Vegan Jammie Dodgers

PS: Oh, for Freedonia's sake! I wanted to make one of them with two hearts but I forgot! Somebody please punch me in the face (of Boe.) Thank you.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Vegan MoFo: I Invented a Sandwich!

I invented a sandwich! Please, please, save your applause for after I reveal my brilliant creation. Today's Vegan MoFo prompt is "best sandwich ever," so here is my gift to you. You are welcome.

I found myself with nothing to eat but a couple of slices of bread, a little bit of peanut butter, and some strawberry jelly. What was I to do? I had to get creative and make the best of what I had. I thought about it for a while, and then suddenly out of nowhere an idea popped into my head - make a sandwich with the peanut butter and the jelly! Here's how to assemble my original invention:

Start with two slices of bread.

I invented a sandwich!

Spread peanut butter all over one of the slices. If your bread is very "holey" you may want to spread peanut butter over both slices to keep the other filling (next step) from escaping through the holes.

I invented a sandwich!

Now spread your choice of jelly or jam over the other slice of bread, or straight over the peanut butter if you want your fillings to really mingle like mine.

I invented a sandwich!

Are you following this? I know it's a little complex, but the result is phenomenal, if I may say so myself. Now flip one slice of bread over the other.

I invented a sandwich!

I invented a sandwich!

And you're done! Isn't it a fantastic idea? It's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! Who knew those two ingredients would be so delicious together! I thought I'd call it a PB&J sandwich for short, which is cute and totally me. Thank you, thank you, yes, I know I am a creative genius. Please, stop! You're making me blush! Anyone could have thought of it, really. Although it WAS all me. Please, do leave me all kinds of comments praising my ingenuity and telling me what a unique sandwich this is. And how amazing I am for creating it. Flattery fuels my genius, so we both win. Well, I must retreat to my "mind palace" now so I can come up with new ideas with which to knock your socks off.

Au revoir.


Oh, the silliness!

This blog post is dedicated to all of you who have ever had your creative ideas plagiarized by some assbutt blogger who shamelessly claimed to be the actual mastermind behind your culinary creations. It's hard to keep putting our original work out there when someone takes something that we conceived and are proud of, and they claim it as their own invention. I'm not talking about a simple recipe for a burrito or a chocolate cake because most of those are bound to have similar ingredients, I am talking about those times when what is plagiarized is something personal.

To those of you who do go around the interwebs stealing people's ideas - we know what you're doing! Everyone knows what you're doing! Yes, you there, in the back! I can see you taking notes and trying to steal my PB&J sandwich idea! Go away!

For those of you who don't go around snatching people's ideas, here's a picture of my computer buddy (not my pup, I was just puppysitting) resting his chin on my desk. I thought he looked a bit uncomfortable so I gave him a tiny chin-pillow. He seemed to approve.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Vegan MoFo: Quick Easy and Delicious Coconut Macaroons

Today's Vegan MoFo prompt is "quick, easy and delicious." Are you a coconut person? I am!

I see you don't look surprised to hear that.

Coconut macaroons! Coconut macaroons! This is a recipe by the one and only, the almighty goddess of alternative baking, Ricki Heller. If you've been reading my blog for a while then you've seen me rave about Ricki's recipes before, but this one I think is my favorite of all. I must warn you, these are one of the most addictive little treats I have ever had in my entire gluttonous life. "I'll eat one," I said. Ha! I'm not even going to tell you how many I ate as soon as they came out of the oven. I was like a greedy chipmunk stuffing food into my cheeks in preparation for the winter.

These tasty little morsels are made with nuts, coconut, and flax meal, and they are sweetened with agave and either coconut nectar or maple syrup. I used almond meal for my macaroons because I was too lazy to grind my own nuts. I didn't have tahini, so I used cashew butter instead. The cookbook version calls for Stevia, but I found they were already plenty sweet and delicious without it, so I skipped it. These coconut macaroons are from Ricki's cookbook Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free, and you can also find the recipe over at Ricki's blog. (Scroll down to almost the bottom of the post.)

Vegan Coconut Macaroons

The leaning tower of coconut macaroons! These really are quick, easy, and delicious. *Some people* will be happy to know that there is no coconut oil or coconut butter in these. Should we peek inside of one?

Vegan Coconut Macaroons

Speaking of sweet little things, here's a picture of Dovey trying his best not to slide down the top of the bird feeder. Slippery stuff!

Slippery Dove